"I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date."
White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
No time to say hello, goodbye. I'm late. I'm late, for a very important date. Is this sounding familiar? Can we imagine a thing so rude as to ignore the arrival or departure of a person from our physical presence? In the morning when we arrive at work or at school are we greeted? Does someone say "hello, good morning, or how are you"?
Do we say "good morning" to our classes?
Not as a class, but as individuals?
"Meet & Greet" is an activity that is successfully used by many teachers around the globe. It can be informal and unstructured, or it can be done with more style and structure. Is there anything more robbing of esteem than walking into a room of twenty or more individuals and not have the opportunity to acknowledge or be acknowledged! The cynic in us may be asking, "Well, let's be realistic."I have 20 to 30 individual students in my class. Can I really be expected to meet & greet them every day?"
What other message would we send? When we arrive at school, work, home or a gathering of others could we imagine entering without being greeted? Is our presence so insignificant as to warrant no reaction? Can we be valued less then if our physical presence is not acknowledged?
The answer to the question, "Should we do a meet and greet every day?" is an absolute unequivocal YES! Yes I If we are trying to teach confidence, competence, achievement, mastery, independence, and freedom then we had better "meet & greet".
The "meet & greet" activity does not have to be a long, time - consuming program. It can be as simple as the teacher standing at the door or entrance to the class greeting the students by name as they enter. A simple, "Good morning." or "Hello!" or "How are you?" is sufficient to acknowledge the individual value and worth of each student. The more structured and time consuming activities described further in this book provide slightly different opportunities to explore students' feelings, readiness to work or learn, and potential to participate in the activities of the day.
The Talking Leather! One type of "meet & greet" activity is what we have named The Talking Leather. This technique uses a small piece of leather or fabric with a simple stick figure pictograph painted or drawn with colored marker or paints to symbolize "talking leather". We use it much the same as the real talking leather shown on the next page. We then explain that many woodland and plains Native Americans did not have a written language until fairly late in their history. In order to preserve the history of the tribe, of their village, and even of their own families, a pictograph history was sometimes recorded on a leather skin. The skin could be made from an animal that had been killed for food. It would be tanned and preserved. Then thecolor, light in tribesman would draw the history to be recorded directly on the leather using charcoal from the fire and paints made from natural dyes and colors from the environment. The leather skin was light in color and weight; and it would last for a long time. The Native Americans also used the skins to make beds and to build teepees or lodges. However, it was this pictographic history of the tribe that was known as talking leather.
The history of the tribe was recorded in pictures on the talking leather. This history was then told in story fashion to children using the pictographs much the way a kindergarten teacher might use a storybook with very young children. From time to time an elder of the tribe would take the skin and it's recorded history of the tribe and visit other villages of the tribe. He would use the talking leather and the oral tradition to share the stories and to teach the children about their ancestors, their history and their traditions. The person who carried the leather was known as "Talking Leather". The leather and the drawings translated and elaborated upon by the person who held it, told the story of the tribe.
We have modified the way talking leather is used to collect the comments and ideas of the group. After telling the story in the paragraph above, the teacher holding the leather would say something like:
I have in my hand a piece of leather. I am the "Talking Leather". It is my turn to talk. When I hold the leather, I am the only person who may speak. may speak for as long as I hold the leather and everyone here should be respectful and attentive to what I have to say. Just as we will be respectful and attentive when it comes your turn to hold, and to become the "Talking Leather". When it comes your turn to hold the 'Talking Leather", you should first thank the person who has passed the "Talking Leather" to you, and acknowledge what they have said before adding your own comments to the discussion."
Of course the idea would be to provide each person standing or sitting in the circle of the group an opportunity to speak in turn and contribute their ideas in a guaranteed safe, respectful, and caring forum.
On the next page we offer some ideas about specific types of questions or topics to use to begin the "talking leather" discussion. As the students become familiar with the technique they may offer their own idea. Over time more and more students will become willing and able to share ideas in a group setting.
Talking Leather Starters
1. Today would be a better day for me if_______________________________.
(Someone noticed how much work I did putting together this lesson.)
The person passed the "talking leather" would then respond.
"Well, Mr. Nicols, I certainly noticed how much work you did putting together this lesson.
And I really like doing these types of activities."
They would then continue with their own...
Today would be a better day for me if ____________________________ .
2. The thing I felt most about .
(Insert a current event or issue for the student or children, dress code, rule, problem)
The person passed the "talking leather" would then respond to the initial statement,
and they would then continue with their own.
The thing I felt most about _____________________________.
3. I am feeling _______________________________
(Insert an emotion or feeling that is true and relevant to you.)
The person passed the "talking leather" would then respond to the initial statement. And then continue with her own statement.
I am feeling _________________________________
4. I wish .
(Insert a wish that you might share)
The person passed the "talking leather" would then respond to the wish before adding his own wish.
I wish .